One of South Devon’s most recognisable and historic boats is undertaking an essential and major renovation.
The 1924-built sailing vessel Provident — which is owned and operated by the Trinity Sailing Foundation — will be heading back out to sea this May after having her entire aft deck removed and replaced.
Throughout the winter the gaff-rigged trawler has been a major focal point of Brixham Harbour, sitting alongside the harbour wall, while a team of shipwrights and her crew get her ready for the new season which will see her sailing to Brittany, the Channel Islands, and the Scillies.
The work was part-funded by The Preservation of Industrial and Scientific Material (PRISM) Fund, through the Arts Council, along with support from other generous individuals and organisations.
Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: “We’re really pleased to have been able to support the restoration of this historically significant vessel through our PRISM fund. The fund aims to conserve items or collections that are important in the history and development of science, technology, industry and related fields. The ‘Provident’ has a rich heritage and this conservation project supports its legacy.”
Ben Wheatley, Trinity Sailing’s Operations Director, said: “By far the most significant and most challenging refit task for Trinity Sailing this winter is the renewal of the aft half of Provident’s main deck; the forward section was completed in 2013, and it is now time for the old deck planks, knees and beams in the aft half of the vessel to be replaced with new.
“We have been working over several years to make improvements to her: new bulwarks and stanchions, a new foredeck and a new engine. This is the final phase. We also invested £200,000 on re-decking our biggest vessel Leader. Golden Vanity, the third of our vessels, is busier than ever with her successful Duke of Edinburgh Residentials and Expeditions.
“This current project began in January; a waterproof cover was erected to enclose the vessel before the work started; since then all the old deck planks and beams have been removed, the new beams are in place and the new deck planks will be going back in soon.
“We are very pleased that Bob Cann and his team of shipwrights, have been able to utilise high quality, seasoned, English oak to make up the beams and knees, whilst Douglas fir will be used for the deck planks. We are also taking this opportunity to do some repairs to the transom and make some improvements to the crew accommodation and lazarette areas.
“It is great to see so much good, new, timber going in to the vessel. Once complete this project will ensure she is in an excellent condition to meet the challenges of a busy sail training and charter programme for years to come.”
The vessel forms part of UK National Historic Fleet, a status which ranks her alongside the likes of HMS Victory and the Cutty Sark.
After the Second World War, Provident arrived in Salcombe, in 1951, as the founding vessel of the Island Cruising Club where she remained until 1999 when she started working from Brixham as part of the newly-formed Trinity Sailing Foundation. Provident was built in 1924, in the same yard on the River Dart as Leader. She was a replacement for an earlier vessel of the same name, sunk during the First World War by a German U-boat. She fished out of Brixham for 10 years before being sold to a wealthy American and converted to a private yacht.
If you would like to join Provident for a cruise this year, you can call Trinity Sailing on 01803 88 33 55 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Her full voyage programme is available online at www.trinitysailing.org